Things are not looking good again in Lebanon, not with the revolt in neighboring Syria and the political turmoil that is sweeping the Arab world in the name of uprising. For almost a year now I have stopped reading newspaper articles about the Middle East. I get a summary of the news from my husband every morning, after he’s read all the news items in all different languages. I read only the articles that my friends post on their Facebook pages re what’s going on in the country and follow their comments.
I am not an extremist and I am not fond of fanaticism in any religious, social or political belief. I do not believe in wars. I truly believe that problems can be solved using other peaceful methods such as dialogue, and communication. I do believe that change is necessary but not at the cost of human lives. I believe that human beings must have the right to a free and dignified existence regardless of their religious or political beliefs, regardless of nationality. It bothers me to see people in some parts of the world like the Middle East and Africa go through the same thing over and over again.
I know, you’re thinking perhaps that it’s easy for me to talk in the comfort of my sitting room especially when I am far from trouble. Well it hasn’t been that long that I am here, not even six years. I have lived all my life in the Middle East. I was born and raised in Lebanon by Armenian parents who had come to the country as refugees at the young age of ten and seven. My grandparents talked about their home, their land and all that they had left behind with such longing and heartache. I grew up listening to their stories but not quite understanding their pain. Until years later during the civil war when after spending sleepless nights in the basement turned shelter trying to hide from the bombs that fell our way, we found ourselves without a job, without a home. That’s when we decided to leave to Dubai.
I lived my best years in Dubai. I had the best of everything, my family, my job, my home, my friends, and all that the city had to offer, the best of the East and the West. And yet sometimes I didn’t feel at home. Maybe because I couldn’t find what I was looking for; that sense of completeness, the kind that you know in your childhood. That feeling of certainty that you experience in your early youth. Maybe because I knew I could be happy and enjoy life and live in Dubai as long as I had my job. I was aware that if I lost my job then I had to leave the country. Because once your work permit, given to you by your employer, is cancelled, you lose your residency visa and cannot stay in the country. That’s how things worked when I was there anyways. And that constant worry took a toll on me. I never had the rights of a citizen, I never became a citizen, I was always the expat.
That’s the reason we left the Middle East and this time came to Canada, in search of that completeness, in search of that certainty. Do I have what I had there? No. But I belong. Take a look!